Jeb Bush is contining to feel the heat for what critics say is stretching the limits of election law.
The former Florida governor is not the only potential presidential candidate to evade campaign contribution limits by holding off from an official candidacy in order to raise funds through a Super PAC, but the high profile of his presence in the race is bringing more negative coverage regarding the transparency of his candidacy by the day, as evidenced by a report in today’s New York Times.
On Sunday in his final program hosting Face The Nation, CBS’ Bob Schieffer asked Bush directly if he was violating the law by not declaring himself a candidate for the White House. Bush replied, “No, of course not.”
Seizing on that negative publicity, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee is blasting potential Florida GOP Senate candidate Carlos Lopez-Cantera for doing the same thing. The DSCC notes in a press release that both Lopez-Cantera and Bush have used the talents of Washington-based campaign finance lawyer Charlie Spies to set up their political action committees.
“It’s no surprise that Carlos Lopez-Cantera is already flirting with the boundaries of campaign finance law even before he announces his candidacy for Senate,” says Sadie Weiner, DSCC national press secretary in a statement. “Lopez-Cantera knows that he will need his own personal Super PAC to prop up his candidacy, and it’s clear that he’s willing to push any legal boundary to boost his campaign.”
Lopez-Cantera has served as lieutenant governor in Florida for a little over a year now. He’s actually created two super PACs as he contemplates a run for Senate: Reform Washington, and Reform Washington Leadership PAC, both created last month.
If he were to enter the GOP Senate race, he would join Jacksonville-area U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the first major Republican to enter the race to succeed Marco Rubio, who is running for president and has said he will not run for re-election to the Senate seat in 2016.
The creation of the super PAC for Lopez-Cantera would allow him to raise unlimited amounts of money in one of the most expensive states in the nation to campaign, with 10 major media markets to run ads in.
Bush and Lopez-Cantera are far from the only political candidates to open up such a super PAC in 2015. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, like Bush considered in the top tier of Republican candidates for president next year, has a Super PAC that has been requesting top donations of a million dollars since it was created several months ago.
And just last week an organizer event was held in Tampa for Run, Ben, Run, the Super PAC created to aid Dr. Ben Carson in his run for the GOP nomination.
Last week, two campaign watchdog groups, Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center, called on the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate whether Bush had broken election law by evading restrictions on candidates.